18 Feb Let the Judge be the Angel on your Shoulder

Often it is not what you say, but how you say it. Ever had words come out of your mouth and realize as you’re saying them that you wish you had rephrased? Multiple times a day? We all have these moments, especially when emotions are heightened. For that reason, written communication is often the better way to correspond with a co-parent and/or ex-spouse. It permits you the time to consider your response prior to pressing “Send.” Once it is out of your mouth, it can’t be unheard, but an email or text can be edited prior to being shared.

We always counsel our clients to write any correspondence (text, email, etc.) to their co-parent, ex-spouse, ex-partner, etc., as though the judge is reading it. Imagine the judge literally peering over your shoulder wearing her black robe as you type. We advise that approach because often these written materials are admissible as evidence that one party or the other is being unreasonable, abusive, noncompliant, and so on, and that can absolutely help/hurt your or their case. It is the simplest rule to follow so as not to sabotage your own case, and we preach it early and often to every client.

If you compose with the image of the judge reading over your shoulder, you are more likely to write, “Please don’t forget Billy has soccer practice after school today and needs to be picked up at 4,” instead of, “hey stupid, don’t forget to pick up your son again, you a$$.” Or “Sure, just let me review the monthly expenses and then I will reimburse you for Susie’s dental appointment,” instead of, “I’ll get to it when I have time, ya’ nag.” Even if you’re thinking the latter, always write the former.

Remember, proofread before you hit Send.